Virtual Learning System Usage in Higher Education – A Study at Two South African Institutions
Keywords:Virtual learning environment usage, course management systems, learning management systems, e-learning, tools for online teaching and learning, virtual learning environment features
AbstractIn higher education institutions various VLSs have been formally adopted to support online teaching and learning. However, there has been little research on patterns of VLS use among educators. The purpose of the research was to provide a descriptive analysis of VLS feature usage, and associated challenges at two South African higher education institutions. A case study research strategy was adopted, combining qualitative and quantitative approaches to data collection and analysis. Survey findings revealed four clusters of VLS feature usage, namely, communication, management, content and pedagogic. Analysis showed that the ‘content cluster’ was used more than the other clusters. The average usage of the ‘pedagogic cluster’ for Durban University of Technology (DUT) was significantly greater than that of University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), which tentatively indicates that staff development seems to be an important aspect of VLS usage. There was no significant difference in the usage of the ‘communication’ and ‘management’ clusters between the two institutions, DUT and UKZN. The study contributes to the body of system utilisation research by confirming an uneven pattern of VLS feature usage among educators, whilst providing fresh insights into the challenges associated with the usage of two different VLSs in two different universities.
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